Thoughts/Suggestions?

Good morning! (Well, at least it’s morning in my part of the world) I’ve had a ton of visitors over the past few days, so I wanted to know if you guys had any suggestions/comments on blog content? I know most people are visiting and viewing the current events round-up and some of the novel teaching guides, and I’m glad that you are taking a look at my materials!

Are there any current events in particular you would like me to write a lesson plan for? Are there any books you are thinking of teaching in class and think I should review or write a guide for? Let me know! I want to make sure my teaching materials are as helpful as possible to ESL teachers around the world, so please feel free to contact me with suggestions, comments, or requests!

You can comment on this blog post, or you can send me an email: eslliteraturelessonplans@gmail.com

Happy Tuesday!

Advertisements

Book Theme: China

Happy Lunar New Year! Being an ESL teacher in the US (as opposed to an EFL teacher overseas), I know [in theory] all about my students’ special holidays, but I often forget when they actually occur. Luckily, my Chinese students reminded me of their new year this morning when they brought dumplings to class! So in honor of all my Chinese students and the Lunar New Year, here’s a reading list of young adult and middle grade novels set in China, inspired by Chinese culture, or featuring Chinese characters!


5983694Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat, returns with a wondrous story of happiness, family, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless adventure story in the classic tradition of The Wizard of Oz.

In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

 

118944American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax–and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

 

30652334The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

In the village of Huanan, in medieval China, the deity that rules is the Great Huli Jing. Though twelve-year-old Li Jing’s name is a different character entirely from the Huli Jing, the sound is close enough to provide constant teasing-but maybe is also a source of greater destiny and power. Jing’s life isn’t easy. Her father is a poor tea farmer, and her family has come to the conclusion that in order for everyone to survive, Jing must be sacrificed for the common good. She is sold as a bride to the Koh family, where she will be the wife and nursemaid to their three-year-old son, Ju’nan. It’s not fair, and Jing feels this bitterly, especially when she is treated poorly by the Koh’s, and sold yet again into a worse situation that leads Jing to believe her only option is to run away, and find home again. With the help of a spider who weaves Jing a means to escape, and a nightingale who helps her find her way, Jing embarks on a quest back to Huanan–and to herself.

 

12892470The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated. When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world. Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.

 

 

 

 

27508527The Emperor’s Riddle by Kat Zhang

Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.

Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows that years ago, when Aunt Lin and Ying were sent to the Fuzhou countryside to work as laborers, the two searched for an ancient treasure together—one that still hasn’t been found. She’s suspicious that their shared history might be linked to Aunt Lin’s disappearance.

When Mia discovers an old map filled with riddles in Aunt Lin’s room, she quickly pieces together her mission: find the treasure, find her aunt. Now, Mia, along with her big brother, Jake, must solve the clues to rescue the person she knows best in the world—and maybe unearth a treasure greater than her wildest dreams.

 

22501055Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

 

13521501Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can’t help but notice the village’s peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper’s son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit?

But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

Current Events Round-Up: The Women’s March

I think the most dominant news story over this past weekend, even more popular than the Inauguration, was the Women’s March in Washington DC and other cities around the world. So I rounded up a collection of articles about the Women’s March, and they range in difficulty from low-intermediate to academic.

Since today is my first teaching day of the semester, I didn’t have much time to put together a lesson plan for this current events round-up. However, I think you’ll have plenty of material to use if you want to cover the Women’s March in class!

Happy Monday!

Current Events Round-Up: The Inauguration

Hey all! We’re coming up on the Inauguration (this Friday, right?) so I thought I’d throw together some links to articles related to the Inauguration. Also, I know that yesterday was MLK day which seems like it would make a great current events lesson, but I know there are already several ESL lessons about MLK out there, so I thought I’d pick something different!

As usual, the articles range in difficulty from low-intermediate to academic. The Inauguration is a topic that might require a lot of background info and cultural explanation, so make sure you include extra time in your lesson for discussion!

 


 

The Lesson Plan: This plan is based on the first article above…I wanted to choose an unbiased article examining the transition of leadership so that students with all views can discuss the Inauguration. This lesson plan includes pre-reading discussion questions, an active reading summary activity, vocabulary synonyms, and post-reading short answer questions.

Click here for the lesson plan ‘How the Permanent White House Staff Welcomes a New First Family’

If you liked this lesson plan and have used it in class, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi so I can continue creating free content!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Random News Story Round-Up

These are a few news stories that I came across this week that I thought were very interesting, but I’m planning for next week’s current event theme to be the inauguration, so I couldn’t use these articles. Enjoy these stories, and I hope you can find a way to use them in your ESL reading classes!

Any way, happy Friday (the 13th!) and have a great weekend!

Book Theme: Civil Rights Movement

Since next Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I thought I’d round up a few novels based on the Civil Rights Movement. I like teaching about the Civil Rights Movement in my ESL reading classes because it’s such an integral part of recent American history, but something that not many international students know much about. Also, understanding the Civil Rights Movement is absolutely key to understanding the current political climate, which I think is something that international students in the US are interested in.


22546133

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Stella lives in the segregated South; in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community – her world – is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.

 

11982396Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool.

As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open.

Augusta Scattergood has drawn on real-life events to create a memorable novel about family, friendship, and choices that aren’t always easy.

 

108077The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Newbery Honor-winning American classic, The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 , celebrates 20 years with this anniversary edition featuring a special letter from Christopher Paul Curtis and an introduction by noted educator Dr. Pauletta Bracy.
Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.” When Momma and Dad decide it’s time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. They’re heading South to Birmingham, Alabama, toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history.

 

20821284Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

 

6609764One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers.

 

 

 

11699349The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958

Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn’t have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear – speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.

But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

 

18527498Revolution by Deborah Wiles

It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded.  Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote.  They’re calling it Freedom Summer.

Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too.  She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe.  And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.
 

17346698March by John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.

Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

 

22504709Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed nine times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

Straightforward and inspiring, this beautifully illustrated memoir brings readers into the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, complementing Common Core classroom learning and bringing history alive for young readers

 

2657To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Current Events Round-Up: Golden Globe Awards

Hey everyone! I’m back from my winter hiatus with the first current events round-up of the year! Unfortunately, since I am just back from hiatus, I didn’t put together a lesson plan for this current events list. However, I figured most instructors might still be on break, especially if you teach at a university like I do (our semester doesn’t start until next week).

For this week’s round-up, I picked a pop culture news item from this weekend: the Golden Globes. As usual, these articles range in ability from low-intermediate to academic. I haven’t included any video links, but it might be fun to show some of the movie trailers to students and have them do short discussions on their opinions of the movies, whether they’ve seen them or not, and what they think the movie is about.

Happy Monday!

Book Review: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a fantastic transition into 2017! I’m technically still on holiday hiatus, but I just finished reading this book last night (my last book of 2016!), and I wanted to write a review right away.

In addition to writing up literature lesson plans for ESL instructors, I also want to do reviews of books that I read for fun. This way, even if I don’t write a lesson plan for the book, instructors might be able to find a book that fits their reading class. This is my first review of 2017, and I loved this book SO MUCH…I hope you and your students enjoy it as well!

26192915Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Goodreads Description: San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

What I Enjoyed About the Book: I loved almost everything about this book! The main character, Mercy Wong, was smart, independent, and funny. She’s a self-made business woman with a lot of dreams. There was also very little romance (which I think tends to take away a lot from a story) – just enough to be cute, but not enough to be overwhelming. I also really liked that there was a lot of discussion about immigrants and non-white people in San Francisco in the 1900s – how they were treated by white people, how they were segregated to their own neighborhoods, how laws were passed targeting specific groups (such as the Chinese Exclusion Act)…but the main theme of the story is overcoming these barriers in the face of adversity. Overall, I’d give this book 5 stars!

What Students Would Enjoy About the Book: Even though my program has students from lots of different countries, we tend to have mostly Chinese students – as a result, we end up with a few classes every semester that have only Chinese students. I think Outrun the Moon would be perfect for when you have an all-Chinese class. The main character is a Chinese-American girl living in Chinatown in San Francisco in 1906, and the novel contains a lot of references to Chinese culture. Chinese students will have an easy time understanding the cultural references in the book, so they will mostly be doing language processing while reading, while non-Chinese students would have to do cultural processing on top of language. There are also universal themes that all students enjoy – action, adventure, family relationships, friendships, and people following their dreams.

Recommended ESL Level: High-Intermediate to Advanced

Have you read this novel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!